By Dr. Mohsen Haredy
“Tawheed” (the Oneness of God) was the message with which all the messengers and prophets were sent to establish on earth. Every prophet was ordered to convey the message of “Tawheed” to his people.In all the verses in the Qur’an detailing the prophets’ stories we read the following command: “My people, serve God: you have no god other than Him.” (Al-A`raf 7:65, Hud 11:61, and Hud 11:84). Therefore, throughout history there has been one message, one God, but diverse nations.Muslims worship the same God of all prophets (peace be upon them), ending with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).Islam, God’s final message, is built on five pillars, namely testifying that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger, performing prayers, paying zakah (obligatory alms), observing fasting in the month of Ramadan, and making Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).
Hajj is made obligatory on those who are physically and financially able to do it.
In what follows are reflections on Hajj as a symbol of “Tawheed” from start to finish.
1- When a pilgrim leaves home and sets out for the journey to Makkah, he leaves behind his wife, children, parents, and relatives. He remembers that it is his love to God that made him leave everything behind to answer His call.
2- Before wearing the Ihram attire, it is recommended to take a shower. While taking off his clothes, the pilgrim remembers that today he is washing himself, but when he dies, he will be washed and buried waiting for the reward of his submission to God in the Hereafter.
3- While in the state of “Ihram”, the pilgrim is required to avoid certain things. He abides by the rules in complete obedience to God without asking why I should do this and should not do that.
4- The “Talbiyah”, which the pilgrim utters after making the intention to make Hajj, represents the message of “Tawheed” (oneness of God).
The pilgrim says: “Labbaika Allahumma Labbaik, Labbaika la sharika Laka labbaik, Inna-l-hamda wan-ni`mata Laka walmulk, La sharika Laka”. (Here I am, O Allah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner.) (Al-Bukhari)
“Talbiyah” is the symbol of “Tawheed”. On how Prophet Muhammad performed Hajj, Jabir ibn Abdullah reported that: “… Then he pronounced the words of “Tawheed” (saying):”Labbaika Allahumma Labbaik, Labbaika la sharika Laka labbaik.” (Muslim)
“Talbiyah” means an ongoing submission to God’s call. It is an answer to the proclamation made by Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and God says in the Qur’an: “… they will come to you on foot and on every kind of swift mount, emerging from every deep mountain pass…” (Al-Hajj 22:27)
When the pilgrim utters the “Talbiyah”, everything around him recites it in the complete submission to the one God. The Prophet said: “There is no Muslim who recites the Talbiyah but whatever is to his right and to his left of stones, rocks and clods recites it with him, to the furthest point to the east and the west – meaning from his right and his left.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
5- When the pilgrim makes “Tawaf” (circumambulation around the Ka`bah), he should remember Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`il when they built the House (Ka`bah) and the purpose why it was built. It was built to establish the worship of one God on earth. He should also remember the supplication made by Prophet Ibrahim “Preserve me and my offspring from idolatry.” (Ibrahim 14:35)
During “Tawaf”, the pilgrim remembers that he is not glorifying the Black Stone or the Ka`bah, but he is glorifying the Creator who ordered him to make the “Tawaf”. `Abbas ibn Rabi`ah reported: “I saw `Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) kissing the Stone and saying: I am kissing you and I know that you are a stone. And if I had not seen Allah’s Messenger kissing you, I would not have kissed you.” (Muslim)
6- The day of `Eid al-Adha is also another symbol of “Tawheed”. On this day, Ibrahim and Isma`il were put to a great trial. The father, Ibrahim, was commanded to sacrifice his son, Isma`il as a test of his faith. The story is reported in the Qur’an as follows:
When the boy was old enough to work with his father, Abraham said, ‘My son, I have seen myself sacrificing you in a dream. What do you think?’ He said, ‘Father, do as you are commanded and, God willing, you will find me steadfast.’ When they had both submitted to God, and he had laid his son down on the side of his face, We called out to him, ‘Abraham, you have fulfilled the dream.’ This is how We reward those who do good–it was a test to prove [their true characters]– We ransomed his son with a momentous sacrifice, and We let him be praised by succeeding generations… (Al-Saffat 37:102-8)
Because the father and the son believed in God, the father did not hesitate to abide by the commandment he saw in his dream, and the son did not hesitate to carry out his father’s order. At that moment, God spared Isma`il’s life and substituted a great ram from heaven instead.
7- The sacrifice is another scene of “Tawheed”. After throwing “Jamrat al-`Aqabah”, the pilgrim should sacrifice a sheep or a goat for the sake of Allah out of recognition of His Oneness, and God will accept such a sacrifice. God says in the Qur’an what means:
Say, ‘My prayers and sacrifice, my life and death, are all for God, Lord of all the Worlds; He has no partner. This is what I am commanded, and I am the first to devote myself to Him.’ (Al-An`am 6:162-163)
… So pray to your Lord and make your sacrifice to Him alone. (Al-Kawthar 108:2)
What kind of reward would suit these efforts made by pilgrims?
The answer is one word, Paradise. The Prophet is reported to have said; “The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than Paradise.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)